Villa Aurora Grant Recipients | 2013 – 2014

Dec, Jan, Feb

Thomas Struth | Artist (Honorary Fellow)

Thomas Struth
Thomas Struth
born in Geldern, Germany

Thomas Struth lives and works in Berlin and New York. He is regarded as one of the world’s foremost contemporary artists.

From 1973 to 1980, Struth studied at the State Academy of Art in Düsseldorf, initially painting with Gerhard Richter, then from 1976 photography with Bernd and Hilla Becher. In 1977 he was the first student to receive a scholarship from the Düsseldorf Academy to live and work in New York. There he created a series of black-and-white urban landscapes, which he showed in his first solo exhibition at P.S.1, New York, in 1978.

In the mid-1980s, he started on a series of both black-and-white and colored portraits of individuals and families illustrating his vision of photography as “a science-derived tool for psychological investigation”. This continuing work examines the personal and cultural dynamics that condition our self-image, exploring how this self-image will influence our individual and collective identities.

Following these portrait works and struck by the growing popularity of contemporary art, Struth developed his best-known series, the Museum Photographs (1989–2005). Here he captures individuals and crowds looking at iconic works of Western art in the great museums of the world. These images characterize museum visits as complex social rituals of seeing and being seen and address the issue of the way the art survives in public collections.

Over the last 15 years, Struth has steadily expanded his repertoire with other themes. These include New Pictures from Paradise (1998–2007), gathering places for religious believers or tourists (from 1998), and, beginning in 2007, images from the fields of science and research, industrial production and technology, which show how our faith in progress can be visually represented as a process of group dynamics.

Comprehensive exhibitions of Struth’s works have been mounted at institutions such as the Kunsthalle Bern (1987), the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (1994), the Carré d'Art - Musée d'Art contemporain de Nîmes (1998), the National Museum of Modern Art Tokyo und Kyoto (2000), the Dallas Museum of Art (2002), the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (2002/3), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2003), the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago (2003) as well as the Museo del Prado, Madrid (2007). A major retrospective recently moved from the Kunsthaus Zürich (2010) via the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen K20, Düsseldorf, to the Whitechapel Gallery, London and the Museu Serralves in Porto (2011/12).

Virtual documentations of his US-Tour (2002-2003) as well as his European-Tour (2010-2012) on: and

Following the theme of his recent works Struth will use his time in Los Angeles to explore settings of technology, science and media.